CHILD graves are being cleared of “unofficial” mementos by Southend Council.

Grieving parents have described the acts as like an “eviction” as council officers fill boxes with items left by loved ones and give people six months to collect them.

The council claims it follows complaints about items being left to rot, but the move could end up making money following the insistence only “official adopted memorials” can be left on the graves.


Teresa Cotgrove, 48, of Station Road, Leigh, had to go and collect a box of items lovingly left following the death of her son.

 She was devastated to find a butterfly ornament that had decorated her son Thomas’s grave since he died in 2001 had been broken.

Ms Cotgrove said: “When you lose a baby butterflies become a really important symbol as they represent the loss, so to see that was really upsetting.”

Her family pay for a plaque elsewhere but still want to recognise his resting place with ornaments and memorabilia.

She said: “It felt like an eviction, an eviction from a child’s grave. I understand that work needs to be done, and we’d all like the woodland to be a calming place to be, but I feel that this has been handled incredibly insensitively. 

“Seeing toys rotting away isn’t nice, but I don’t think this is the answer.

“Children are messy in life, why not let them be messy in death?

“The feeling of the area being a big playroom has brought a lot of comfort to me over the years.” 

Read more: Family distraught as child’s grave cleared in Southend

A spokesman for Southend Council confirmed unofficial items including flowers, toys, and decorations are in the process of being removed from the children’s woodland area at Sutton Road Cemetery, Southend.

The spokesman claimed it follows concerns from the Stillborn and neonatal death charity and from members of the public.

The council has produced a list of the items which are appropriate and available from the council.

These include a dedicated bronze plaque, for £215, or a memorial tree or shrub at £405 for five years before the sponsorship must be renewed.

Since May 8 about 13 plots have been cleared and placed in storage with two collected.